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World Aids Day takes place every year on December 1 to bring awareness to the deadly virus that has no cure. Over the years, treatment and drugs for this virus have gotten good enough to be able to give people a life again.

NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson contracted the virus back in 1991 that caused him to retire from his career early. Over the last 26 years, Johnson has been an advocate for making people aware of the terrible illness and what they could do to help themselves and others.

“I’m doing great. You think about 26 years, Tom. And you know everything is just wonderful. Back then it was scary because everyone was dying…but the medicine at that time 1 drug now we have over 30 drugs,” explained Johnson.

But he really stressed on the fact that the Black community can make it hard for people with the virus to feel welcomed. “People focus on making sure they can be here a long time. Our community thought is still hush-hush,” said Johnson. “People don’t want to come out to their family members when they get diagnosed with HIV.”

He added, “Our community should make people diagnosed with HIV feel ashamed and don’t out them and make them feel like they’re different. Even 26 years later we are still in the same situation.”

Drugs and treatment for the virus have tremendously improved over the years

“The drugs are so much better. Before you go in four times now just one. I used to take my pills three times a day now it’s only one,” explained Johnson. “I was taking 15 pills three times a day back in the day.”

But having the support of family and friends is very important to getting through the illness. “The one thing I had was family support. So Cookie, my kids, now my two grandchildren but also my parents who are still alive today,” he expressed. “When people struggle they try to hide it so that puts, even more, pressure on themselves. And so it’s difficult to try to beat this thing by yourself.”

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